What is analytics consulting?
Analytics consulting is the newest of consulting disciplines. With volumes of data, i.e. big data, growing at unprecedented rates inside and outside an organisation, the business need for predictive, prescriptive, descriptive or diagnostic analysis is compelling. The insights gained by understanding past business performance can be used to predict, prescribe, describe or diagnose current and future business performance.
Analytics consulting has brought data warehousing, data mining and data quality back into the management agenda. How confident are we that we can act upon any analysis and that our data is ‘clean’ and ‘fit for the purpose’? The accuracy of the data visualisations we require for statistical and infographic purposes depend upon this cleanliness.
Popular analytics consulting categories
These are the popular areas of analytics consulting, and common rationales for performing them:
- Customer insights, for product and service improvement, marketing and customer retention
- Financial analytics, to forecast possible financial scenarios
- Pricing analytics, to determine optimal pricing strategies and structure
- Social media analytics, to derive insights into user behaviour and voice of customer
- Speech and text analytics, to expose information within speech and text and unlock the “voice of business”
- Spend analytics, to profile and optimise expenditure
- Web analytics, to understand and optimise web usage
- Workforce analytics, to develop evidence-based HR initiatives.
Tips for a successful analytics project
First and foremost, senior sponsorship is key, and ideally a senior executive who really understands the importance of analytics and the role it plays in effective decision-making. Data scientists are often integral to a successful analytics project, however they are in short supply, hence the growing need for well-qualified analytics consultants. There is a plethora of data-based IT products currently available, but many will not survive. So choose proven products and be prepared to switch as newer products appear. Don’t over-automate the analytics process… the old maxim of “garbage in = garbage out” still applies with a twist, because not-relevant data should be culled, otherwise it’s a case of “not-relevant data in = not-relevant insights + action + results out”…and as the volume of data increases, so too does the garbage pile up!
What to look for in an analytics consultant
Good analytics consultants bring to bear a unique combination of skills and knowledge across technology, statistics and business. Your consultant should be conversant with the proven analytics, data scrubbing and de-duping tools, and up-to-date with what’s coming next. They should keep you at the leading edge of analytics developments. At the same time, your consultant should be upfront with you about the state of your data and if it is even meaningful to analyse with the available tools in the market. What starts out as an analytics project may well lead into a “going back to the drawing board” engagement to ensure data quality and redefine data strategy.
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